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a Play
by Deborah Zoe Laufer

COMPANY : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 3932

SHOWING : January 13, 2011 - February 06, 2011



Less than a year after receiving top billing at last year’s prestigious Humana Festival of New American Plays, Aurora Theatre will stage the second production of note for Sirens, a new comedy by Deborah Zoe Laufer. Sirens is the story of Sam and Rose who, after twenty-five years find the passion in their marriage has ebbed. The cure is a romantic cruise to the mythical Greek Isles. That is, until washed up songwriter Sam hears his siren calling, and chucks himself overboard. Then things start to really get bizarre. Whether it’s a siren playing solitaire, Sam’s all female Facebook list, or a 60-year-old man with the looks and charm of a Lothario, quirkiness abounds. In this clever, fast-paced comedy about finding one’s muse, Sirens is sure to fight the post-holiday winter doldrums with the healing power of laughter.

Director Susan Reid
Richard Miller Lowrey Brown
Sam Abrams Steve Coulter
Rose Adelle Abrams Mary Lynn Owen
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


How His Naked Ears Were Tortured
by Dedalus
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Sam and Rose Abrams have reached a crossroads. Married for twenty-five years, they are at a stage of life where they are far too cranky with each other, far too piqued at each other’s failures and shortcomings, far too eager to pursue “the one who got away.” In a last ditch attempt to save their marriage, they embark on a Mediterranean cruise among the islands of Greece. There their stories diverge.

For Rose, a particularly spiteful spat is ended when Sam unceremoniously tosses himself overboard. His body is never found and Rose returns home, quickly making contact with the one love from her past, a love whose suit was trumped by Sam and his song about her.

For Sam, a particularly spiteful spat is interrupted by the sound of singing, a plaintive and intoxicating air reminiscent of youth and of the songwriting career that should have been his. (His one hit, “Rose Adelle” is twenty-five years in the past, and its success has never been matched.) With nothing to lose, he dives overboard and swims to a remote island, populated only by a siren out of myth (who is obsessed with electronic solitaire), a siren who looks like a long-lost love his own youth. Needing batteries for her own new-found love, the siren lets Sam return home.

What happens next is, perhaps, predictable by anyone who has ever seen a movie or read a book that climaxes in a “grand romantic gesture,” but it is no less funny and enjoyable for meeting those expectations.

Much like “Tokens of Affection” currently on stage at G.E.T., this is a hugely satisfying play about long-term love, how it sometimes grows stale, and how, the siren-call of the memory of love from our youth leads a relationship to capsize on the on the rocks of regret and habit and spite. It is a tale of how a deep and long-term love can sometimes save you from those white-capped shoals.

This is the second play I’ve seen by Deborah Zoe Laufer (after last year’s “End Days” at the Horizon), and I really enjoy how she is able to use figures of fantasy and myth to set off her stories that seem rooted in a very realistic emotional world. The stories and the characters may be fanciful, but they reveal very real and compelling conflicts that are quintessentially human. And, she has a wicked sense of humor and a flair for dialogue that makes the more predictable aspects of her plots seem fresh and exciting.

Steve Coulter and Mary Lynn Owen are the Abrams’s, utterly perfect in every way. Even when they are bickering the loudest, they still share an almost palpable bond that makes their slips and mistakes all the more affecting. When Mr. Coulter “breaks loose” with his goofy new song at the end, it is a joy to behold. And, in a tender coda, when they bind themselves together to a mast of a small ship, it is a moment of transcendent joy. They are ably supported by a radiant Kate Donadio as the siren (and a few other parts) and by Lowrey Brown as Rose’s old beau, pitifully smarmy in his trying-to-look younger hair style and lounge lizard attitude. Susan Reid has directed them all in a seamless, well-paced (and intermission-less) production that goes down as smoothly and magically as a genie’s elixir.

A simple set by Seamus Bourne (a lone island dominated by skulls and bones and dwarfed by an empty sky) is the backdrop, even though the bulk of the play is staged on small units on either side. It’s that siren-call motif embodied – no matter where the characters are, that island is waiting for them, with its grim reminders that the trip is one-way (usually). The sound design by Matt Callahan is a beautiful collection of echoes and sea-sounds and more versions of “Rose Adelle” than you can count.

So, as you wonder if you are staying with your spouse out of habit or out of something deeper, if you find your relationship growing dark with pique and regret, If you miss the freshness of your life was love was an undiscovered island, remember the words of Eric Clapton and Martin Sharpe:

You thought the leaden winter would bring you down forever,
But you rode upon a steamer to the violence of the sun.
And the colours of the sea bind your eyes with trembling mermaids,
And you touch the distant beaches with tales of brave Sam Abrams,
How his naked ears were tortured by the sirens sweetly singing,
For the sparkling waves are calling you to kiss their white-laced lips.

Or, you could go see “Sirens” at Aurora. The kiss is just as sweet!

-- Brad Rudy (

In Sirens' Environs
by playgoer
Monday, January 17, 2011
Deborah Zoe Laufer's "Sirens" is a cute new intermissionless play being presented at Aurora Theatre. It riffs on the idea of the Sirens that tempted Odysseus to shipwreck, while providing few overt parallels to Homer's "The Odyssey." Here, the Siren is entranced by a video solitaire game console that has washed up on her island. Sam Abrams washes up on her island, unlike Odysseus, and his journey is more metaphysical than physical, as he attempts to recapture his youth and particularly a song he had written to his high school sweetheart. His wife Rose Adelle Abrams is hardly as faithful as Penelope, keeping a date with her former beau Richard Miller on the very day her husband returns to civilization. It's hardly deep or memorable, but it's enjoyable to sit through.

The premise of the story is that Sam Abrams wrote a hit pop song ("Rose Adelle") over 25 years ago and hasn't had a hit since. The pre-show music contains a variety of settings of the "Rose Adelle" lyric, which is a smart and catchy way to ease the audience into the mindset of the play. The set, though, while using the full width of the stage, doesn't mask the burgundy and gold curtains at either side of the stage. Their Victorian opulence is jarringly at odds with the clean, simple lines of the multi-location set. The lighting design, by Jessica Coale, beautifully points up each location, with the glorious blue of the cyclorama evoking the sunny Mediterranean.

Performances are all adequate, with Kate Donadio's being far better than merely good. She takes on three separate roles (a travel agent, the siren, and a waitress) and hits every line she speaks and every motion she makes. Compared to her, the others seem one-dimensional. Steve Coulter has a hangdog look and a whiningly stilted voice as Sam. Mary Lynn Owen, saddled with some wiggy-looking wigs, makes an impression as a dissatisfied housewife. Lowrey Brown, cast as a 20-year-old version of Richard Miller, does a nice job of conveying both youth and age, although his Italian phrases desperately need a dialect coach. As a group, they work well together.

The writing and direction keep things moving with frequent moments of humor. I liked the guilty looks around by Sam and Rose Adelle in the travel agency as Sam let the s-word out, but this false modesty was ruined when the scene ended with Rose Adelle unleashing the f-word. It got a big laugh, but it was a cheap laugh. The writing tends toward the facile, which makes for entertainment, pure and simple, with little underlying meaning. The show is a cute, 90-minute diversion about a husband and wife re-discovering one another. And 90 minutes in the Mediterranean can be a welcome respite from winter weather. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Interesting by Dedalus
You know, I didn't even notice the curtains ... Maybe my seat was closer than yours.

(BTW, I suspect the Italian was mangled on purpose -- it would have been so in character :-))

Have a great week!
Interessante by playgoer
The play makes a point of saying that Richard Miller took a job in Rome, Italy 25 years ago. I detected no subtext or reactions that would make me believe that this was a fantasy on Rose Adelle's part. Yet Richard pronounced "magnifico" and "ragazza" without any apparent knowledge of the simple rules of Italian orthography. If he'd ever been to an Italian restaurant, I'd expect him to have picked up that "gn" is pronounced "ny" (as in "gnocchi") and that "zz" has a "ts" sound (as in "pizza"). His intonation was fine, but the pronunciation was off. If this was a choice, it was a choice unsupported by the script or direction.
On the other hand .. by Dedalus
The play makes a bigger point the Richard is a shallow lounge-lizard creep who would not be above making up a resume that includes a trip to Rome. Or who would not be above learning a little bad Italian and deciding it was enough to impress an old girl friend.


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